Fox News keeps inviting Tv physicians on air who say crazy things

New York( CNN Business) Fox News has displayed a knack in recent weeks for inviting prominent television physicians on its air who make absurd comments that ignite controversy.

While the three household names have all had success in daytime television, each of them has previously faced serious criticism from medical professionals. Furthermore , none of them are infectious disease experts.
And yet Oz, McGraw, and Pinsky have all appeared on Fox News, building remarks that support the network’s editorial viewpoint, but which fly in the face of what health officials have said about the coronavirus.
In the weeks before President Donald Trump proclaimed a national emergency over the pandemic on March 13, Fox News hosts and personalities spent continually downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus.
After Trump’s declaration, theirtone became more serious. But it has again shifted of late, with high-profile hosts and personalities now pushing to end the shutdown and questioning whether it was even prudent in the first place.

I had zero experience in a novelists’ room. Then I was offered my dream job in LA

How would I adapt to my own giant office, gummy bears on demand and daily microdosing?

” Do you want to come to California for a couple of months to work on the television show of your dreams ?” is honestly the most exciting non-food-related thing any other person has said to me. When the comedian and writer Lindy West sold the adaptation of her book Shrill to Hulu and it immediately got picked up to series( a dumb Hollywood term that basically means,” We will give you fund to attain several episodes of a show that we don’t know if anyone will actually watch “), she called me on the phone( a crime ), and we unintelligibly screamed high-pitched nonsense words at each other for a full minute and a half.

Lindy told me that she was allowed to pick one of several people who would join the Shrill writers’ room that summertime in Los Angeles, and she wanted that person to be me.

I had zero experience in a writers’ room and zero experience working on a television show, other than the soap opera running on a continuous loop in my head, starring myself. I was unbelievably flattered and 100% positive that I was grossly unqualified for this job that I was absolutely going to accept.

I love LA( dog birthday parties! spiritual healers on every corner !). You might not think so, because I’m a misanthropic depressed person with menopause acne, whose hips are too wide for every restaurant chair in this city, but you would be wrong. I’m a Fat Bitch from the midwest and I love accidentally running into minor celebrities with my cart in the wheatgrass aisle. I love witch doctor, and blond topknots, and designer sunglasses, and how everyone is friendly until they figure out that you can’t put them in a movie. I love frightening all of the miniskirted assistants at my Tv agent’s office by eating carbohydrates in public. I love going to a ritzy spa and suffering first-degree burns on my labia while getting my yoni steamed, a procedure I didn’t need that provided no benefits. I love when someone recommends their shaman to me in earnest. I love how many adorable ice-cream shops and bakeries there are all over a town where nobody feeds ice-cream or cooked goods. I love how, while sitting at a restaurant gazing out at the oceans and seas and casually mentioning that your back has been bugging you, people will offer a little no-big-deal nibble of shrooms, the route someone in, say, Milwaukee would go fishing through their pouch for a dusty Advil.

The first day of my new task as a lowly faculty writer on a US comedy television series, I was several minutes late and are covered under a thin sheen of musky flop sweat at 10 am, my palpable impostor disorder causing my belly to careen acid up the back of my throat. The perfect way to show up for your first day at a new job!” Nice to meet you, fellow comedy kids! Would you like to shake my damp and clammy hand? My body smells like a dog’s teeth !”

I approach most attempts with zero expectations- a skill I have sharpened after 40 years of fairly regular frustration. I learned early on that if you simply expect things to be bad , not even bad but the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone, then, unless someone gets murdered in front of you, whatever it is usually turns out to be fine. Bearable, at the worst. It’s a good skill to have, and it attains new things, for the most part, pleasantly exciting. I had no idea what was in store for me, so I packed a lunch and brought a refillable water bottle simply in case, because I was fully prepared to eat my room-temperature string cheeses while confidently saying dumb stuff like,” I’m just pitching here, but what if we sent that character to the moon ?”

Everyone else seemed borne and unimpressed so I tried to imitate their nonchalance as we were shown to our individual offices . A real office! With a desk, some chairs and a couple of windows plus a computer and a filing cabinet! No one else seemed fazed. Oh, sure, of course. They were bona fide showbiz professionals who’d probably had dozens of its term of office throughout their careers. I, meanwhile, wrote my last volume in the incapacitated bathroom at my old undertaking during lunch breaches. “ Be cool ,” I advised my inner tuna casserole. Nothing is more embarrassing than unbridled exuberance. I walked in and put down my backpack filled with shrink-wrapped portable snack cheese.” This’ll work, I guess ,” I said coolly, pretending to inspect a room that was bigger than my last apartment. I snuck a picture, my hands vibrating with hilarity, and send it to my friends in the heartland, who are all potatoes.

Samantha
Samantha Irby:’ Writing a Tv show is like hanging out with your friends’ Photograph: Eva Blue

Menus would magically appear in the middle of the conference room table at 10.30 every morning. Do you know that there is not a single Thai restaurant where I live? No need to cry for me, it’s not like larb is a basic human right. I’m just trying to illustrate why the fact that we could just, you know, have dishes delivered in the middle of the day was cause for celebration. I’m a rube, OK? I’m used to living that” packet of expired Swiss Miss cocoa in the violate room if you can find it” kind of life.

I’ve never had a shared assistant before. And, frankly, an deputy is a great deal of pressure, and I would never want to have access to one again. Every time someone young and eager( whose job it was to remember how much Stevia people like in their tea in the hopes that one day that would translate to a writing undertaking) offered to get me a drinking, I said here today,” Wait, can I get you a drink? What kind of kombucha do you like ?” and then I’d melt into a thick goo of inadequacy. I have never not had a job where I wasn’t the one whose chore it was to fetch things or clean up with a mop. I love a cold drinking and I detest strolling, so what a dream not to have to do that, but it felt weird not to give the person who committed to memory that I like that one weird soda a tip-off or the keys to my rental vehicle. You know, to make it feel even.

I frankly cannot tell you how to make a television programme, but I can tell you that we got to make a shopping list every week of things to have on hand in the kitchen. This is an unbelievably astonishing gift that immediately devolves into the most stressful decision you’ve ever had to stimulate in your life!

Someone would slide the notepad with’ groceries’ scrawled at the top over to me and I’d have a complete internal breakdown.

Should I write gummy bears? Is everyone going to know that I’m the one who requested a child’s candy ? What if I put down yogurt , and they get the unsweetened health kind? Is it more depressing or less depressing if I write down the specific brand and flavour that I want? Why do I always want the shit called low-fat chocolate cherry cupcake yogurt ?

Writing a television show is like hanging out with your friends in the same room every day, arguing about what should happen on a display you haven’t watched yet. After the first week, I waited for someone to show up and tell me,” OK, hoe, it’s cute that you thought we were just gonna let you sit in a chair and get paid to think about imaginary people. Here’s your scrubbing brush, you recollect where the lavatories are, right ?” And … I would do it. I would scrub those toilets. When I ran at a bakery, I had to mop the floor every night and scrub down pastry lawsuits, and once burned an entire layer of skin off my limb on a trayful of fresh millet bread. For that I was paid $ 7.25 an hour, and I gladly cashed those cheques. Every day, I drove to the Shrill writing room in my Toyota Camry and wondered if that would be the day someone would see through my ruse and order me to go pick up lunch or ask students if they could use my back as a table.

In the beginning, when we were coming up with the arc of the season, we all pitched ideas to build the narrative for the main character, Annie (” Really, though, should she go to outer space ?”). The basic premise of the series is this: Annie is a fat, single woman in a situationship with a loser, and she’s also unfulfilled at her job, where she is underappreciated. Our goal was to figure out a way, in only a handful of episodes, to evolve her from a whiny doormat( sorry !) to a bitch who owns her shit. While talking about a tangible style to shift Annie’s perspective from the beginning of the season( unhappily eating special weight-loss foods and putting up with shit from a shitty human) to where we wanted her to be at the end of it( fat and fine with it, or at the very least on the way to being fine with it, and dumping said fucking shit ), all of the writers were throwing out notions( we didn’t want to resort to a cheesy makeover montage or make her over the head with an exercise bike ). I said that maybe she could go to a fat-girl party, and maybe that party could be at a pond, and maybe seeing half-naked fat people enjoying themselves is likely to be the catalyst for this change in her attitude toward her body and herself.

‘Half-naked
‘ Half-naked fat people enjoying themselves’ in the scene Irby wrote for Shrill. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/ Alamy Stock Photo

In Chicago, I would go to dance parties, and garb swaps, and exercise classes “thats been” made specifically for fat girls. I thought it would be cool to see Annie assure all different types of bodies unabashedly enjoying decadent party snacks while wearing crop tops and bikinis poolside.

You hear people talking about the importance of seeing” someone who looks like me ,” and it’s like,” OK, sure, who cares, shut up .” It has always been obvious in regards to race, but with sizing I guess I’d never truly thought about it that much because, well, that’s just the way things have always been. Sometimes, it isn’t always clear what you don’t have until model Tess Holliday is on the covering of a widely distributed magazine with her back fat out and then it’s: HELL YES, BITCH. SHE HAS THIGHS LIKE ME, OPEN UP MY LARGEST VEIN AND INJECT THESE IMAGES DIRECTLY INTO IT.

I wanted to write a moment like that for the demonstrate. Frankly, America needs more moments like that. More fat people doing normal stuff that isn’t “dieting” or” being sad “. As a consumer of popular culture you can’t help but be exposed to all the typical fat-girl stereotypes and tropes: she cries on the scale! She’s a great friend to skinny protagonists! She has a closet full of adorable cherry-printed skirts! For me, Shrill was an opportunity to set a bitch fat lady who can’t sing on TV, and it attained people so mad, and I love that.

We wrote the indicate over the course of two months. I ate more delicious free lunch than I could count; I went to many, many live demonstrates and left early; I watched Jeff Goldblum on the freeway and nearly drove my stupid overpriced automobile into oncoming traffic. I also 😛 TAGEND

* went to a psychic in Santa Monica who got some things so right that it scared me

* microdosed psilocybin mushrooms every day

* left a restaurant because it was too small and offered no parking, which constructed me feel like the mayor of the midwest

* ensure the dude who played Ryan on The Office( US) at a fried chicken spot

* went to Sephora in Pasadena and let the handsome salesman with very smooth skin dishonor me into buying six billion dollars’ worth of tiny bottles of oil

* slammed my hand in the door of the rental automobile and pissed my gasps from the blinding pain

* stocked up on powerful crystals

* tried fruitlessly to find a quality bagel

* sat in the car listening to Drake’s In My Feelings on repeat in a parking lot in Long Beach while watching other people frolic in the water

* ordered tacos a thousand times

* feigned I was starring in La La Land and constructed unironic jazz hands in public

After we writers turned our individual scripts in, we expended a week or so punching up one another’s jokes. I learned so many things on the job, entailing I faked knowing what people were talking about then looked it up on my phone when they turned their attention elsewhere. I get off the plane in LAX not knowing how to write” this scene happens in the house at breakfast” in a script, but now I know it’s” INT. HOUSE–MORNING “.” Punching up” basically means that other writers go through your script and try to come up with lines that are funnier than yours, and you get to do the same thing to theirs; then everyone submits them anonymously and individual producers, who get final script acceptance, picking the ones that they like best, and they’re probably not yours but whatever, bitch!

When the scripts were all punched up and edited, it was time to leave. I mostly spent my last week watching Sharp Objects in the air-conditioning at our rented home and avoiding all the Gila monsters prowling around outside. Then I went home, where I no longer had to talk about weed or pretend to understand fashion.

My life snapped right back to whatever it was before I left. I ran my usual errands, picked themed snacks for our monthly volume club, and let my muscle memory lead me right to the gastrointestinal distress aisle at my beloved local pharmacy. I didn’t have to learn the layout of a new store any more.

I don’t ever want to be the kind of person who is not fully blown away by the magnitude of getting to make a big, dumb, shiny thing that doesn’t cure disease or whatever, but brought people some elation. I never want to take for granted that a person in a big corporate office pulled out a giant cardboard cheque for millions of dollars to buy mini hotdogs and fake margaritas, only because I typed this scene up on my old, junky laptop. It still feels like a takeover, like:” Do they actually know that they let those individuals who regularly falls for fake news narratives write an entire episode of their television depict ?” I’ll never be too cool for all those coffees a kid with a master’s degree had to spend his summer running to get for me. I am a garbage person who has taken a shit in the street before! Did I ever imagine, 20 years later, I’d be wearing those flat headphones you only see around the necks of directors in behind-the-scenes DVD extras of your favourite movies, watching performers read terms that I wrote from a monitor? I DID NOT. I believed I would be living in a windowless apartment above a Jamaican restaurant, married to a small hairless dog. I may still end up there, fixing Mr Little Jeans his dinner as reggae heartbeats through our floor from the restaurant below, but I will always have my Hollywood Summer.

* Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby is published by Faber and Faber on 2 April. Shrill is on BBC iPlayer

If you would like your comment on this piece to be considered for Weekend magazine’s letters page, please email weekend @theguardian. com, including your name and address( not for publication ).

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Selfies, influencers and a Twitter president: the decade of the social media celebrity

From Gyneth Paltrow to Trump, todays starrings speak directly to their fans. But are they genuinely controlling their message?

I have a friend, Adam, who is an autograph seller- a niche profession, and one that is getting more niche by the day. When we gratify for breakfast last month he was looking despondent.

” Everyone takes selfies these days ,” he said sadly, picking at his scrambled eggs.” It’s never autographs any more. They just want photos of themselves with celebrities .”

Anyone who has attended a red carpet event or watched one on Tv, knows that selfies have securely supplanted autographs, with fans careening desperately towards celebrities with outstretched phones instead of pens and paper. Celebrities have adapted accordingly. In 2017, a video of Liam Payne ran viral that depicted him miserably working his way down a line of selfie-takers, his smile lasting as long as it took for each fan to press click.

A photo of oneself with, say, Tom Cruise, feels more personal than a mere scribbled signature, which he could have given anyone( and could have been signed by anyone ). But the real reason selfies have abruptly rendered autographs as obsolete as landline telephones is because of social media. Instagram is constructed for photos , not autographs, and what’s the point of having your photo taken with Payne if you don’t then immediately post it and watch the ” OMG !” s and” NO Way !!!!” s come flooding in? If you stand next to a celebrity and your friends don’t like the photo, did it ever happen? Do you even exist?

Instagram launched in 2010, four years after Twitter, six years after Facebook. Although social media was originally pitched as a way for people to keep in touch with their friends, it quickly also became a way for people to feel greater proximity to celebrities, and to flaunt this closeness to others. Facebook, with characteristic hamfistedness, attempted to monetise this in 2013, when it announced it was trialling a feature that would allow users to pay to contact celebrities for a sliding scale of fees: 71 p for Jeremy Hunt, PS10. 68 for Tom Daley. But there was no need for people to spend money for the privilege, because celebrities had already proven extremely keen to bend down low and share their lives with the peasants. When Demi Moore appeared on David Letterman in 2010, she was already so addicted to Twitter she continued to tweet while live on air to millions. (” This stinks ,” Letterman griped .)

The appeal of social media for a celebrity is obvious, in that it allows them to talk to the public without those awful middlemen: journalists. The past decade is littered with examples of why celebrities( and their publicists) now prefer social media( which they can control) to giving interviews( which they cannot .) It’s unlikely that Michael Douglas would have tweeted that his throat cancer was caused by cunnilingus, as he told the Guardian’s Xan Brooks in 2013( and for which he later publicly apologised to his wife, Catherine Zeta Jones ). It’s even less likely that Liam Neeson would have made an Instagram story about the time he went out hoping to kill a” black bastard” after a friend was raped, as he said in an interview this year. Why risk such disasters when, instead, you can just take a flattering photo, slap a filter on it and post it to your already adoring followers? Mega celebrities with a hyper-online fanbase- Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Frank Ocean- can now go for years without giving an interview and their careers are helped rather than harmed for it.

Instagram is an airbrushing app, one that lets people touch up their photos, specifically, and their own lives, generally, by determining what they choose to post.( When Jennifer Aniston ultimately joined social media last month, and momentarily broke the internet, she naturally chose Instagram over the bearpit of Twitter .) Some are more honest about this than others: after he married Kim Kardashian- the celebrity who more than any other has made a virtue out of artifice- Kanye West proudly told reporters in 2014 that the two of them expended four days of their honeymoon in Florence playing with the filters on the wedding photo, that they eventually posted on Instagram,” because the flowers were off-colour and stuff like that “.

Frank
Frank Ocean: a mega celebrity with a hyper-online fanbase. Photograph: Rex/ Shutterstock

You wonder what they’d do with all that time if the internet didn’t exist- remedy cancer, perhaps? Musician John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen have established a new kind of fame for themselves with their regular social media posts: with Teigen complaining about Donald Trump on Twitter; both of them posting photos of their perfect household on Instagram. Teigen is considered more “real” than her friend Kardashian because she is funny and doesn’t take money to advertise dodgy weight-loss supplements. But their photos are as idealised and managed as any Hello! shoot. The reason Teigen- a heretofore relatively little known model- has over 26 million adherents on Instagram is because she hits that social media sweet place, which is to be( to use two of the more grating buzzwords of the decade) aspirational and authentic.

At the beginning of this decade, it was the aspirational side of the equation that was deemed more important- leading to the rise of a new kind of celebrity: the influencers. This bewilder group of people indicate their lives are so perfect that, by showing us photos of how they eat, dress, mother, travel, decorate, exert, put on makeup and even remedy themselves of illness, they will influence us to do the same. For the successful, the money was suddenly limitless, as brands realised that the public trusted influencers more than adverts, and so threw money at them to endorse their products; Kylie Jenner, a makeup influencer, currently makes$ 1m per sponsored post. This was always a delicate bubble and it finally began to burst last year, when the Advertising Standards Authority decreed that influencers need to spell it out when they’re being paid to promote something. Writing ” ADVERT ” beneath that perfect photo of you chugging some Smart Water next to a waterfall doesn’t really boost one’s authenticity.

Even more problematic were the Fyre Festival debacle and the fall of YouTube superstars such as Logan Paul and PewDiePie, scandals that eroded the relationship between online celebrities and their followers. It turns out influencers weren’t more trustworthy than adverts; in fact, in the unregulated world of the web, they were markedly less so.

An older demographic has sneered at influencers, as they did with the previous decade’s reality Tv stars, indicating they are not ” real” celebrities. This is an absurd complaint, in recognition of the fact that some influencers have more adherents than traditional movie stars do. Yet influencers atomise audiences in a way traditional celebrities don’t: even if you have never bought Vogue, you’ll know who Cindy Crawford is; unless you follow Chiara Ferragni on social media you will likely have no idea who she is- and yet the style influencer has four times as many adherents as Crawford.

Ironically, the rise of the influencer began with a very old-school celebrity, one who is frequently accused of being the personification of the worst kind of elitist privilege: Gwyneth Paltrow. When Paltrow launched her wellness website, Goop, in 2008, few would have predicted it would reshape both Paltrow’s career and cultural notions of what constitutes an aspirational lifestyle. Paltrow helped usher out the 2000 s trend for bling and Cristal, swapping them for yoga clothes and gluten-free kale crisps, stimulating discreet asceticism the ultimate -Alister look. Which is more authentic is debatable, but the biggest swap Paltrow stimulated was personal: “shes gone” from being an Academy Award-winning actor to online influencer. And, in recognition of the fact that her company is now estimated to be worth $ 250 m, she probably stimulated the more lucrative choice.

Happily , not everyone uses social media to hawk fantasy images of themselves. Occasional glimpses of reality peek through, to everyone’s delight, and by “reality” I entail “feuds”. We’ve had Katy Perry and Taylor Swift’s long-running snarky subtweets aimed at one another. There were Kim Cattrall’s explicit swipes at Sarah Jessica Parker on Instagram. After her brother died, she wrote:” I don’t need your love or support at this tragic time @ sarahjessicaparker. Let me make this VERY clear.( If I haven’t already .) You are not my family. You are not my friend. So I’m writing to tell you one last time to stop exploiting our tragedy in order to restore your’ nice girl’ persona .” Most recently, Coleen Rooney accused” Rebekah Vardy’s account” of selling tales about her to the tabloids. One can only feel deep stabs of regret that Bette Davis and Joan Crawford died before either had access to an iPhone.

As much as young celebrities tout the importance of authenticity, those who come across as most genuine tend to be the older ones- perhaps because they are less internet savvy, or, more likely, have fewer media directors. Bette Midler and, in particular, Cher have really come into their own on Twitter, gleefully sharing their often emoji-heavy supposes on Trump and politics in general. (” What do you think of Boris Johnson ?” one tweeter asked Cher.” F-ing idiot who lied to the British ppl ,” the goddess replied, rightly .) And while Instagram may be best known for hyper-stylised photos of, say, Beyonce holding her newborn twins, the most purely enjoyable celebrity accounts belong to Glenn Close- she posts candid videos of herself and her puppies, always liked by Michael Douglas- and Diane Keaton, who posts decidedly unstylised photos of herself.” YES, I AM WEARING[ TROUSERS] UNDER A SKIRT” is a typical all-caps caption. Ever wanted to know what Annie Hall would be like online? Now you know.

Actor
Sarah Jessica Parker, target of Instagram swipes from fellow Sex And The City star Kim Cattrall. Photograph: Reuters

Of course, the downside to being able to reach one’s public immediately is that the public can reach back. Stars from Stephen Fry to Nicki Minaj have publicly left social media sites after the audience proved a little less admiring than they hoped. “Stan”- or obsessive fan- culture has blossomed. Sometimes this has been to the celebrity’s benefit: Lady Gaga’s fan squad, the Little Monsters, amped up her Oscar campaign for A Star Is Born. But if stans feel they have been let down by the object of their preoccupation, they will viciously bully the( usually female) star, as Katy Perry and Demi Lovato have experienced. As a outcome, many celebrities have turned off the comments on their accounts, so we can hear them but they can’t hear us. So much for getting closer.

And yet, for all the fascination social media currently exerts, the celebrity narratives that will have the most enduring impact did not start there. There had been rumors about Harvey Weinstein for years, but he was ultimately undone by good old-fashioned investigative reporting, by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey at the New York Times, and Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker. Michael Jackson, R Kelly, Woody Allen, Max Clifford, Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer became pariahs( in Jackson’s case, posthumously) when their accusers spoke to journalists. Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself to the world , not on social media, but on the covering of Vanity Fair. When Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, the artist formerly known as Meghan Markle, spoke out against the “campaigns” against her, they directed their rage towards the print media( and the Mail on Sunday in particular ). Ironically, this could be seen as instead reassuring to the newspaper industry: sure, our sales are falling, but for a certain kind of celebrity, publish is still what matters.

Nonetheless, this decade has, in a very profound way, been shaped by the social media celebrity. Donald Trump did not emerge from the online world; he came to prominence through the traditional format of TV. But he has taken advantage of the route Twitter prioritises personality over expertise: it doesn’t really matter what you say, as long as you say it in a way that captures the most attention; and the public has grown accustomed to this kind of communication. In the early part of the decade, Trump devoted himself a Twitter makeover; it was a platform where he could move from being the embodiment of obnoxious Manhattan privilege( bragging in interviews that he wouldn’t rent an apartment to anyone on welfare ), to the say-it-like-it-is kinda guy, the one who tweets about the dangers of vaccination. When he ran for the presidency, Trump maintained this persona, and many people assumed that’s all it was- a persona- and one he would fell once in office. Well, we all know how that turned out.

Now he, and in this country, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, treat their offices as if they were a form of social media: they rely on the web to build a dedicated following, and complain about journalists who venture anything but adoring coverage. They disdain traditional interviews, preferring instead to put out their messages via Facebook or Twitter, metaphorically turning off the comments, staying comfortably inside their respective bubbles. Social media was never supposed to reflect the real world, but the real world is increasingly being bent to reflect social media. And it’s not only autograph vendors who will suffer for that.

* If you would like a comment on this piece to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s letters page in publish, please email weekend @theguardian. com, including your name and address( not for publishing ).

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Cokie Roberts, famed journalist and political commentator, dies at 75

Roberts expended decades at ABC News, wrote books and never became cynical, colleagues say: When I think of politics, I think of Cokie Roberts

Cokie Roberts, the daughter of politicians who grew up to cover the family business in Washington for ABC News and NPR over several decades, died on Tuesday in Washington of complications from breast cancer. She was 75.

ABC contravene into network programming to announce her demise and pay tribute.

Roberts was the daughter of Hale Boggs, a former House majority leader from Louisiana, and Lindy Boggs, who succeeded her husband in Congress. Roberts ran in radio and at CBS News and PBS before joining ABC News in 1988.

She was a congressional reporter and analyst who co-anchored the Sunday political show This Week with Sam Donaldson from 1996 to 2002.

Roberts, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, kept running virtually to the end. She appeared on This Week in August, drawing enough concern about her evident weight loss that she released a statement saying ” I am doing fine” and was looking forward to covering next year’s election.

She co-wrote a political column for many years with her husband of 53 years, Steven, who survives her. They had two children.

Roberts wrote books, focusing on the role of women in history. She wrote two with her husband, one about interfaith households and From This Day Forward, an account of their marriage.

Current ABC News political reporter Jonathan Karl recalled being in awe of Roberts when he first started working at the network.

” When I think of politics, I think of Cokie Roberts ,” he said.

Her colleagues said she never became cynical or “losing ones” love for politics. She did force NPR to clarify her role as a commentator when she wrote a column in 2016 calling on” the rational wing” of the Republican party to reject Donald Trump as their presidential candidate.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Jameela Jamil: ‘I won’t become a double agent for the patriarchy’

The former presenter turned The Good Place star on why she refuses to stay silent about the aftermath of #MeToo, unhealthy body ideals and the tabloid media

When British celebrities make it big in the US, they go through a by now familiar process of becoming Hollywoodified: they get thinner, more groomed, less fun, all the while insisting that their occasional deployment of a quaint British swearword proves they haven’t changed a bit. This is not Jameela Jamil.

” We can not talk in here, it’s too fucking crowded ,” Jamil, the former T4 presenter turned US sitcom star, proclaims, looking around the private members’ club. I’d indicated it because it’s near what is now her home in West Hollywood, which she shares with her boyfriend of three years, the musician James Blake. But as we walk through the club she decrees it” a bit you know, whatever , you know what I mean ?” All around us, people are wearing the regulation attires of LA beautiful people: long dress with sandals, or designer jeans with vintage T-shirts and expensive trainers. Jamil, by contrast, is wearing an absurdly short and tight dress with chunky heels. Her hair and makeup look endearingly unpolished.

” I like to do it myself, because I don’t like being contoured ,” she says, referring to the makeup trick that creates the illusion of a thinner face and higher cheekbones, popularised by Kim Kardashian, who we’ll get at in a minute.” Also, I invariably get made up to look a different ethnicity- whiter .” If the former breakfast Tv presenter Cat Deeley looked born and bred in Santa Monica five minutes after landing here to present So You Suppose You Can Dance, Jamil still looks like a London girl on her way to Camden Market.

Most British people still know Jamil best from her day as a presenter on Radio 1, and her three-year stint on pop culture present T4, from 2009, where she was a fun and lively interviewer who, for example, informed Russell Brand live their lives air that interviewing him was ” a nightmare “. But in the US she has become a bona fide star, thanks to her role in NBC’s The Good Place, made by the people behind Parks And Recreation. Set in the afterlife and co-starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, The Good Place is one of those rare shows that manages to be very smart and extremely silly, in which extended discussions about Kierkegaard and Plato( as the characters try to figure out if they’re good or bad) rub up against jokes about Blue Ivy and James Franco. Jamil is very funny as Tahani, a Little Miss Perfect socialite who namedrops for Britain:” I haven’t been this upset since my good friend Taylor was rudely upstaged by my other good friend Kanye, who was defending my best friend, Beyonce .” The depict has just finished shooting its third season.

After a breast cancer scare at the age of 28, Jamil decided she would no longer wait to do the things she wanted to do. So she moved to LA in 2015, originally hoping to find work as a screenwriter. To her surprise, her director convinced her to audition for The Good Place instead and, even though she had never acted before, she got the proportion. Initially, she begged the show’s creator, Michael Schur, to rethink his decision,” because I didn’t want to make an absolute tit of myself in front of the entire world “.

Jameela
Dress, Adam Selman at Desperate LA; cuff and ring, Leigh Miller Jewelry; shoes, the palatines. Photo: Ramona Rosales for the Guardian

Like Tom Haverford, the character in Parks And Recreation played by an Indian-American actor( Aziz Ansari) but portrayed on the display as simply American, Jamil, whose parents are Indian and Pakistani, plays a character who is defined by her Englishness; her ethnicity is not an issue. Similarly, the two young male results are played by an African-American( William Jackson Harper) and a Filipino-Canadian( Manny Jacinto ), and in neither example is their ethnicity a bar to them having on-screen romances with women from other backgrounds. It’s not so much colourblind casting as colour-neutral, an extreme rarity in mainstream US TV.

” There was a moment when we were filming season one when I realised I was in a scene with two other women from south Asian backgrounds, and it wasn’t commented on in the reveal or anything ,” Jamil says.” And “weve all” shocked by this, for our race to not be fetishised in some way, and we were shocked by how shocked we were .”

Meanwhile, Jamil has taken on another high-profile role, that of an extremely vocal critic of celebrity culture. She started an Instagram account called I Weigh on which girls post images of themselves and say how much they “weigh”- not in kilos, but in a better quality they like about themselves (” Good friend”,” Bad vocalist”,” Loving sister”, and so on .) She made headlines earlier this year when she criticised Kim Kardashian for promoting something called an” craving suppressant lollipop “. ” Fuck off. You terrible and toxic influence on young girl ,” Jamil wrote on Twitter. Kardashian afterwards deleted the post.

On her blog, Jamil often takes the extremely unusual step- for a celebrity- of calling out journalists and fellow performers by name:” Some awful woman called Heidi Parker for the Daily Mail Online has written an article, appearance dishonor a heavily, heavily pregnant Jessica Biel ,” begins one typical entry. She wrote a smart take on the Aziz Ansari scandal, after the comedian was accused of having pressured a date into having sex, and linked a lack of interest in female permission with the rising accessibility of porn.( As it happens, Jamil shares a manager with Ansari .)

She has plenty of reasons to be critical of the British tabloid press: when she started on T4, the papers criticised her for being too thin. Then, when she gained weight after taking steroids for her asthma, she was criticised for being too fat; the tabloids published unflattering pictures of her bending over in the street.

Jameela
In The Good Place. Photo: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

” Outside my home! To pick up my key! And then photos of my arse are in publications – it’s so invasive, it should be illegal. But it actually opened my eyes, because when I was a sizing 6 or 8, they only took photos of me that would make me appear good, posing on the red carpet or whatever. As soon as I was a size 10, they were want photos of you seeming bad, like, with your mouth open or eyes closed. No one tried to take my photo when I was operating when I was thin, only when I was fat ,” she says, just getting started.

She was considered fat at a size 10?” Yes! Seriously, come on. But what really upset me was that they never documented any of my professional success, such as that I was the first female to host the chart prove on Radio 1. It was always about my failure to fulfil some Victoria’s Secret prototype .”

Jamil now has a rule: that she doesn’t want any images of herself to be airbrushed. In this, she is one of a new generation of women speaking out against the artifice of celebrity photography: last year, Lupita Nyong’o criticised Grazia magazine for removing her afro ponytail; and Solange Knowles complained when theEvening Standard magazine removed her crown of braids. But I tell Jamil she’s the first person I’ve encountered who prohibits any retouching.

Jameela
Stylist: Anna Su at Art Department. Hair: Robert Lopez for Solo Artists/ Oribe Haircare. Above: top, H& M; shorts, Vivetta; ring and bracelet, Leigh Miller Jewelry. Opening photo: jumpsuit, Urban Outfitters; necklace and ring, Leigh Miller Jewelry. Photograph: Ramona Rosales for the Guardian

“Really?” she says, surprised.” I don’t know any woman who’s truly happy with how they appear, because they’re always aspiring to this perfect aesthetic, and I only find it truly toxic and I’ve had enough. I did a tweet recently about a tabloid that described Queen Latifah as looks a lot like a’ beached whale’- can you imagine ?” I can, and I add that disrespecting Queen Latifah- with her decades of success- seems absurd, like disrespecting Oprah Winfrey. Jamil cocks a slightly sceptical eyebrow.” I entail, to be fair, Oprah does a lot of weight-loss endorsements, so part of Oprah’s industry is her weight-loss fluctuations, so that’s different .”

The sad truth is that many of these articles and magazines are written and edited by women .” Even if a woman edits the publication, a human owns the company and I think it’s scary to humen how independent girls can be ,” says Jamil.” It’s not in the patriarchy’s interest for us to be multifaceted. They want us to worry about how we look, because it slows us down and we’re then less likely to overtake them. Also, it benefits me to show what I truly look like, because then there’s no value in tabloid photos of me. People are used to seeing my wrinkles and spots and under-eye circles, so the paparazzi can’t’ catch me out ‘,” she says, placing heavy satire on the past three words.

James
Jamil with her boyfriend, James Blake Photograph: Kate Green/ Alpha Press

It’s easy to be bold about presenting your true face to the world when it is as naturally gorgeous as Jamil’s; in person, her big brown eyes, long, messy black hair and curvy figure build her seem nearly cartoonishly beautiful. And on her Instagram account, she posts plenty of flattering selfies.” I’m all for wearing nice clothes and enjoying yourself, but that’s just a fraction of the things I’m interested in ,” she says.” I make sure I put my writing out there and my campaigning, and I hope the image I’ve projected is a rounded one .” She is looking down and speaking more softly than before, as if she’s still figuring it all out. Does it actually help girls and women to be told to feel better about themselves when the person doing the telling looks like a model? Jamil winces a little, because she doesn’t see it like that. She talks about her” unsexy personality” and” total clumsiness”, which would come across a little like Miss America insisting they’re actually super-dorky because they wear glasses had Jamil not experienced so much bully about her appearance as a child.

Whether about her weight, or her skin colour, the bully went on for as long as she can remember. By the age of 12, she was 5ft 10 in and big for her age, her face covered in acne and braces, and at her private all-girls school in London( she was on a scholarship ), it was relentless.” They called me the Fat Paki ,” she recalls.

But that’s not even a pun!

” I know, it’s like my early rap name .”

As recently as 2016, she was racially abused in London.” I was in Notting Hill the day after the referendum and someone said,’ Go home, Paki !’ The day after! I was like,’ How long have you been waiting to say that, mate ?'” she says, both amused and furious.

When she was 14, Jamil developed an eating disorder that she now sees as an attempt to gain some control over a life that felt chaotic, and to fit in with the girls at school ,” although it didn’t help “. She credits a major accident with changing such courses of their own lives- she was 17 when a auto made her, damaging her spine. She was stuck in bed for a year and thought she’d never be able to walk again without a Zimmer frame.” There’s something about not being able to move that gives you a new respect for your body, and I candidly think that collision saved me .”

Throughout all this, Jamil’s home life was difficult; her mothers were unhappily married and divorced when she was very young. She was also sexually assaulted by strangers twice.The first time happened when she was 12 and walking along Oxford Street when a man grabbed her by the crotch.” At 3.30 in the afternoon in front of John Lewis, for God’s sake ,” she near wails. When he wouldn’t let go, she had to run down the street and hurl herself against a wall to shake him off, then run away. When she was 15, she was dragged by a stranger into a vehicle-” in Belsize Park! The more affluent part of London !”- and was saved only because a stranger insured her struggling.” I never considered those experiences traumatic up to now, because I thought they happened to everyone and were normal. And now I realise that maybe that’s true, but it shouldn’t be .”

This realisation has emboldened her to speak out against the movie industry. Jamil feels some things have improved, thanks to the #MeToo motion:” weird and sleazy producers” no longer suggest meetings at 9pm and men don’t even try to hug, let alone kiss her, at the end of a session. But the situation “re a long way from” perfect. Jamil is close friends with Daniele Bernfeld, a movie executive who was viciously assaulted by the actor Emile Hirsch in 2015; Hirsch was given a fine and sentenced to 15 days in jail.” But he’s never stopped working- meanwhile, my friend has PTSD ,” Jamil says with palpable frenzy. Hirsch is now attaining Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s film about the Charles Manson assassinations- a film about the death of a woman, Sharon Tate, directed by a human who has admitted he knew that Harvey Weinstein assaulted females, co-starring a human who assaulted a woman.

” It is so darknes. How dare any of the people involved in that movie wear Time’s Up pins to the Golden Globes? Can people simply not hire men who have almost killed women ?” she says.

And yet, there are plenty of women who, at the very least, play down male violence. Not long before Jamil and I satisfy, Germaine Greer, for reasons known only to her, told an audience at the Hay festival:” Instead of thinking of rape as a spectacularly violent crimes- and some rapes are- think about it as non-consensual, that is bad sex .”

” Bloody, bloody Germaine Greer !” Jamil shouts, startling everyone around us.” Rape is not bad sex. She merely needs to get in the bin and live there and set up shop there. And the older French women !” she adds, referring to the letter 100 French females, including Catherine Deneuve, signed, condemning the #MeToo campaign for its” hatred of men and sexuality “.

” I wonder if older females looked at and realise they’ve experienced trauma and want us to stop talking about it, because they don’t want to think about it. But we’re just trying to stop it happening to the new generations of girls ,” she says.

Does Jamil ever worry that being outspoken might hurt her career?

” Oh, I don’t care about that. I can’t not say this because then you become a double agent for the patriarchy, which has always been my biggest anxiety .”

And yet one awkward fact remains: that her administrator is Dave Becky, who is not only Ansari’s manager, but also the former administrator of Louis CK, who admitted to sexual misconduct last year. Becky was accused by two of CK’s victims of telling them not to talk about it, and later issued a public apology.

” He’s no longer Louis CK’s director ,” she says with a nervous chuckle.” But I decided to be with him because he represents so many women I admire .”( Becky also represents Amy Poehler, Issa Rae and Natasha Lyonne .)

And neither he nor Schur ever warned her off talking about Ansari?

” No. Never .”

Almost every feminist is familiar with the idea of making a compromise to get on in the modern world, and if you work in the amusement business you are more familiar than most. And if there are certain elements Jamil is still figuring out , no one can doubt her gallantry in doing this just as she embarks on her Hollywood career.

Her boyfriend, James Blake, has been a huge source of the assistance provided. They knew each other in London, but got together when they moved to LA at the same hour.” Living with him has been very determine for me ,” she says. And in turn her campaigning has been eye-opening for Blake:” He’s seen the impact of constructing yourself a voice of reason to the people you’re lucky enough to reach .”

There is an obvious irony in that it took coming to LA, in many ways the global epicentre of body neuroses and abuse enablement, to turn Jamil into a warrior on behalf of women’s self-image and safety at work. But she says it was being here that pushed her over the edge. And, set like that, it’s depressing that more women haven’t had that reaction, too.

” I merely cannot stay silent any more, I can’t ,” she says.” I don’t care if I’m going down- I’m going down in flames. I’m fine to not work in this industry. But I’m not penalty to not say something .”

* The Good Place returns to Netflix in the autumn

Commenting on this piece? If you would like your remark to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s letters page in print, please email weekend @theguardian. com, including your name and address( not for publishing ).

Read more: www.theguardian.com

‘The people’s yogi’: how Adriene Mishler became a YouTube phenomenon

With 4 million subscribers and hundreds of thousands more watching free weekly videos, Yoga with Adriene is a social media sensation. What constructs her fans so dedicated?

There are more than 2,400 people in the main hallway of Alexandra Palace in north London, breathing in unison.” Take the deepest breath you’ve taken all day ,” says the woman at the front,” and let it out through the mouth .” Lungs empty en masse. It feels like we’re in the belly of a beast.

The woman is 33 -year-old yogi and actor Adriene Mishler, and this is the largest live yoga class she has ever held- she is more frequently to be found teaching alone in front of her camera at home in Austin, Texas, than IRL. And it is this intimate version of her that 4 million subscribers to her Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel have come to know and share their homes with.

Her especially popular videos-” Yoga Morning Fresh”, for example, or” 7-Minute Bedtime Yoga”- can get upwards of 2 million viewers. Search ” yoga” on Google, and Adriene dominates.

” You just want to be her friend ,” says Magdalena Krohn, a 32 -year-old teacher and performance artist who is at the Ally Pally event, queueing for a cashew curry. Karen Bradley, a 56 -year-old health visitor, has travelled from Sheffield to see Adriene. Fifty-year-old civil servant Julie Ashen says she is” not that brilliant with people”, but has nevertheless travelled from Swansea to see Adriene in this setting. You must love her, I say.” I do. She’s quite a phenomenon .”

When I tell friends I am fulfilling Adriene, they get a zealous look in their eyes:” I’m not hyperbolising when I say she changed my life ,” more than one confesses- and I know they’re not, because she changed mine, too. Perhaps it’s simplistic, but there is a lot to be said for being gently cajoled into focusing on the feeling of the soles of your feet on the yoga mat, when anxious supposes ought to have jolting like runaway trains through your mind all day.

We meet the day before the event, over an on-brand turmeric latte in an east London cafe. In real life, Adriene is as enthusiastic as her on-screen ego- peppy yet sage, welcoming and warm. I mention this special alchemy that has fans is speaking to her as if she’s a friend.” Yeah, and we are ,” she says immediately, as though she feels it too.” Whenever I satisfy people, I’m always like:’ Holy shit, it’s such an honour- I get to be in people’s homes, their most vulnerable place .'” Her chat is peppered with talk of blessings and angels, but I would challenge even the most cynical-hearted not to want to get a second round of lattes in.

Bringing
Bringing yoga to the masses … The event at Alexandra Palace , north London, this month

She has a snort-out-loud sense of humour, with a confidence she attributes to a childhood raised by” creative hippies “.

The yoga community can feel intimidating- bodies contorted for aspirational Instagram posts, or studios where you are pushed uncomfortably deep into poses- but Adriene has positioned herself in opposition to the unrealistically ascetic side.” I used to induce margarita jokes, merely to get people to see that yoga is not only for people who sit in lotus all day and sip yogi tea .” She measures her speech carefully:” I don’t want to criticise people doing the pretzel[ poses ], but I think there’s a lack of awareness .”

” Find what feels good” has been her motto ever since she started in 2012- her followers recite it with nearly evangelical fervour. This approach is part of what has drawn the numbers to her videos, and mobs to north London despite the PS40 ticket price- as well as to the other stops on this European tour, which includes free class. For Krohn,” Adriene was the first teacher who really got me to understand that yoga was about more than merely physical flexible or that various kinds of ego-driven thing that goes with modern yoga .” Bradley came to yoga because she has arthritis- Adriene has, she says, helped her find some adoption:” This is where you are … you are able to do things but don’t pushing it, find what you can do .”

Practising at home has obvious advantages- people quote cheapness, struggling to get to a studio because of health issues and fitting quick conferences in around family life. Adriene’s focus is on accessibility; yoga for all. You could question the altruism- as with any personality on YouTube, she earns revenue from her well-watched channel( the analytics firm Social Blade sets the brand’s annual earnings at up to PS284, 000 ). She has a sponsorship deal with Adidas, and subscribers willing to pay $9.99( PS7. 50) a month to access extra content on her Find What Feels Good site. But with millions of people able to access her yoga for free, I’ll get to critiques of her motive once I’ve untangled from pigeon pose.

Yoga is a booming industry- last year, the market was worth $80 bn( PS74bn) globally. Once a trailblazer, Adriene is now one of a host of online yoga teachers bringing an ancient practice to a mass, modern audience.” There are a lot of people who think it’s a little bit questionable ,” she concedes.” I get why people from India are running:’ Hey, what the hell are you doing ?'” Cultural appropriation is a criticism she has watched levelled at a lot of American teachers and one that she thinks, to an extent, is carnival. Has she ever been criticised herself?” I don’t actually get onto that much and the only hours I do, I can tell that person’s never done any of my videos. They’re lumping me in because I’m white, wearing Adidas gasps .” She has, she says,” tried to teach the real traditional style yoga … I truly want to honour the philosophy .”

But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been room for some online savvy. Her business partner, Chris Sharpe, who she satisfied on the set of a horror cinema and who had previously produced the successful YouTube series Hilah Cooking, was aware of the need to push the videos up the search engine rankings. It induced for knotty decisions.” I did not want to call anything’ yoga for weight loss’ in the beginning ,” she says. But they struck a deal and tried it:” It did so disgustingly well .”

They started to play around and chose terms they knew would rank highly. She quotes a video called Six Pack Abs.” Is that what we abide by and are six-pack abs really possible for women? Nooooo. Anatomically, it’s just ridiculous. But I’m kind of making fun of it .” In the video, she begins in the persona of a dumbbell-bunny, before rapidly caving:” Just kidding, if you know me at all I don’t really subscribe to that obsession .” If you’re not familiar with her shtick, you could be forgiven for thinking it a cynical move to get the ratings up. But she is no stranger to body-image issues herself, mentioning that before auditions, she has felt a pressure to diet.

Adriene
Adriene at Yoga on the Lane. Photograph: Alastair Levy for the Guardian

Even now, she says being” on YouTube, in tight apparel” means she has had to work hard to avoid feeling the same pressures. Instead, she says she wants to” get people closer to experiencing pure love and adoption for themselves. She assures these video titles, antithetical to her message, as Trojan horses, bringing people to her channel so she can deliver her alternative:” You can seem good all you want, but if you’re still seeming in the mirror and not loving who you consider, we have it backwards .” It might sound schmaltzy written down, but it is clearly a much-needed message.

So why yoga, and why now? It is irresistible to connect turbulent days with a practice that can help you feel grounded. I try to make it that neat: has she assured an uptick in numbers on her channels since Trump took office, say?” I don’t know how the numbers have changed in terms of big shiftings in politics ,” she says,” but I do know that as a woman and as a human living in this time, I feel it .” And she clearly wants her yoga to cut through. She weighs up the next words, nearly egging herself on:” I want all the people who voted for Trump to do my yoga. I want all the people who battle with its own experience of racism to do yoga .” There’s that yoga for all message again.

Her mother is Mexican, and in recent years Adriene has been embracing her heritage more.” Not that I’ve ever tried to hide it- hell no ,” she says.” But I wasn’t raised bilingual and I happen to be fair-skinned. Then I had a moment a couple of years ago when I was like:’ Shoooot, I’m Mexican and nobody knows it .'” She is learning Spanish:” My goal is to be able to do a playlist on my channel that’s all yoga espanol .”

Her brand’s meteoric rise has undoubtedly been helped by the boom in the global wellness industry- estimated in 2015 to be worth virtually$ 4tn- and Adriene knows it.” I’d be lying if I didn’t say Chris anticipated this … he had the idea of creating something in the world of wellness for a reason .”

As for the recent politicisation of the wellness industry, especially in reaction to the more elitist side of it,” I just think that it’s like everything – it’s really not about what you’re putting out there, it’s about how you’re doing it. We’re saying we want everyone to feel good, and yet we’re insinuating the only style to do that is if you have enough fund to buy this $65 detox tea, and then it comes in the mail and you’re like:’ What the fucking, I could make this .'” It’s not something she’s immune to, either:” Hell yeah, I’ve Gooped .” Which is why, she says, she has started to care about the numbers-” It gives me more power to be, like, the people’s yogi .”

Back in the vestibule of Ally Pally, we’re finishing the evening’s practice by hugging ourselves- yes, you read right. Adriene cracks a joke and then we’re all breathing in unison again, like one big, collective lung.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

‘ Get shredded in six weeks !’ The problem with extreme male body transformations

Mens Health magazine has transformed many men and its own fortunes by featuring extreme muscle makeovers. But does changing shape fast have a dark side?

In 2004, Men’s Health journalist Dan Rookwood strolled into his editor’s office in a funk. The topless beefcakes who appeared on their covers were unrealistic, he had decided. No one actually looked like that- not least the staff of what was then the UK’s third-biggest-selling men’s publication. His editor smiled. He felt specific features coming on.

Just over a year later, a smirking Rookwood appeared on the March 2006 cover of Men’s Health. His biceps were huge, his six-pack extraordinarily well defined.” From fat to flat !” read the cover line, alongside a picture of a mournful-looking Rookwood, pre-transformation, his belly soft and rounded. It became the biggest-selling Men’s Health issue of all time.

The transformation genre of men’s publication encompas tales was born. Since then, they have become the bread and butter( or steamed spinach and chicken breast) of these publications. Pick up a copy of Men’s Health every six months or so and you will see a topless staffer grinning for the camera, next to the words” Get shredded in six weeks !” or” From scrawny to brawny !”

In difficult times for print publishing, Men’s Health and its challengers hit upon a monetisable formula. In different regions of the country, podgy dads and harried office workers dreamed of having the perfect physique. Makeover transformations promised the body they longed for- typically within eight to 12 weeks.

Aziz
‘ I’d binge a lot, wholly overeat, then starve myself out of remorse’ … Aziz Sikdar, who became fixated on bulking up after gaining weight at university. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

A cottage industry whirred into action. You can join the Men’s Health Transform Club or purchase a copy of the Men’s Fitness 12 Week Body Plan. The message is clear: trench the carbs, start deadlifting and you too can upgrade your father bod to the crisply defined torso of a Hollywood hunk.

But get shredded takes serious graft.” It’s quite a drastic lifestyle change ,” says former Men’s Health journalist( and January 2017 covering star) Tom Ward. The hardest part was giving up his favourite sugary foods.” I’ve got a real sweet tooth and I feed ice-cream all the time, so towards the end I was Googling videos of people stimulating cakes and dreaming of what I’d feed .”

” It’s 80% about nutrition ,” agrees his former colleague Mark Sansom, who objective the challenge with 48 cm( 19 in) biceps. Feeing four portions of microwaved fish a day took its toll.” You’d be forcing it down. It wasn’t enjoyable .” Avoiding alcohol- the nemesis of defined torsos everywhere- was difficult, too.” You realise how much British life is arranged around liquor ,” says Jon Lipsey, the Men’s Fitness cover star for May 2018.

” I wanted to prove to the readers that the cover-up lines we preach at Men’s Health are possible ,” Sansom says.” We’re normal guys .” But how normal? All were given personal trainers and Ward’s editor allowed him time off work to train.

Play Video
7:51

Steroids, syringes and stigma: the quest for the perfect male six-pack – video

Cover model transformations are not snake oil- they do work, you are a staff journalist at a magazine with access to high-end trainers, a sympathetic boss and the time to spend hours meal-prepping protein-based snacks.

While the Men’s Health encompas body may be attainable, most people are not able to maintain the necessary lifestyle once these new challenges is over.” For me, the diet was not sustainable long term, whereas the training has been ,” says Rookwood. He is conflicted about his role in creating the genre of cover-up transformation stories.” It was just a bit of fun ,” Rookwood says.” Something to tell the grandkids ;, maybe frame in the downstairs loo someday .”

The Men’s Health squad did more than shift magazines: they ushered in a protein-blasted physical esthetic. In this new paradigm of masculine excellence, anyone can achieve physical perfection if they put in the hours. It is an aspirational narrative, accompanied by a specific jargon. Men are hench, wammo or tonk. A good swolder never forgets leg day.

Bodybuilder
Bodybuilder Aziz Shavershian, AKA Zyzz, died aged 22; he had been taking clenbuterol.

Our physical ideals change according to the times in which we live. The 80 s masculine ideal was typified by action heros such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, while scrawny, beer-drinking lads dominated the 90 s.” The idealised body image is highly muscular right now ,” says Dr Stuart Murray, a psychologist who specialises in muscle dysmorphia in men. What distinguishes this ideal from that of the 80 s is a preoccupation with maintaining a single-digit body-fat percentage to better display one’s muscularity.

Whereas the vest-wearing action superstars of the 80 s required physical strength to hoik themselves into lift shafts and avert terrorism, today’s uber-tonk males wear their six-packs like beautiful, pointless feathers: this is a cosmetic muscularity, rather than a functional one. Its most prominent brand ambassadors are, of course, the preening and tensing humen of Love Island, who are effectively one giant regional gym constructed flesh.

The emergence of this physical ideal is linked to the death of lad culture.” Publications are reflectors of society ,” says Simon Das, a lecturer in journalism at London College of Communication.” Publication such as Nuts and Zoo were out of kilter with the new generation of men coming through .” As the chaps mags were counted out, health-focused publishings absorbed their audiences, with Men’s Health overtaking FHM’s marketings in 2009. Men’s Health remains the biggest paid-for publication in the men’s lifestyle sector, with a circulation of 175,683 at the end of 2017.

Men’s publications reflect and reinforce the culture zeitgeist. Young humen today are interested in” wellbeing and fitness and looking good”, Das says.” So this is reflected in the editorial interests of publications oriented at guys .”

Men’s publications alone did not give rise to this new ideal; there were other factors. Gymgoing became democratised, with chains such as PureGym( which opened in 2009) and Fitness4Less( founded in 2010) bringing affordable membership to the masses. The pursuit of fitness accrued social capital, with streaming sites such as YouTube stimulating celebrities of personal trainer Joe Wicks and fitness guru The Hodgetwins. Some argue that the financial crisis created the gym bro: as traditional roads to success were eroded, humen fell back on their bodies as a means of feeling valuable to society. Concurrently, young person stopped drinking as much.

You may think: what is the damage in counting reps on a chest press? But the masculine frame we fetishise today can be as pernicious as the uber-thin supermodels we typically denounce for perpetuating unrealistic body ideals.

Before
‘ It’s quite a drastic lifestyle change’ … the results of Tom Ward’s regime for Men’s Health. Photo: Tom Ward

Aziz Sikdar, 29, became unhappy with his body after gaining weight at university. He turned to YouTube channels including Athlean-X and Yo Elliott, as well as Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness.” I’d look at YouTube channels and publications so much that bodies of that type seemed the norm to me and I felt like I was lacking .”

Sikdar tried a few cover-story schemes.” Generally, they weren’t very effective. While their diet tips were helpful, I didn’t get much from the workouts themselves ,” he says.” They’d recommend something a few months and then, a couple of months later, tell you the complete opposite .”

Rapidly, Sikdar developed an “unhealthy” relationship with food.” I always had to know the breakdown of what I was eating ,” he says.” I’d binge a lot, wholly overeat, then starve myself out of guilt .” Once, he feed at McDonald’s eight days in a five-day period.

Because nutrition is essential to achieving the cosmetic muscularity that is in vogue, those predisposed to disordered eating can adopt worrying behaviours.” Diet is imperative to get the sort of results these men are working towards ,” says Sam Thomas of the charity Men Get Eating Disorders Too.” That can become a focus in itself and spiraling .” Even men who appear in prime health can be in the grip of a devastating illness linked to their desire to achieve a more muscular goal.

As eating disorder services tend to be designed for women, male sufferers can be overlooked. Merely one in 10 patients who seek help for eating disorders are humen, despite the fact that humen are as likely as women to suffer. Clinicians are trained to look for emaciation, despite the fact that many sufferers are not underweight, particularly if they are packing on muscle at the gym.” Another complication is that these guys are coming from gyms where there is a’ no pain , no gain’ ethos, which means they’re socialised into thinking it’s OK to forgo important parts of their lives in the service of this muscularity ,” says Murray.” They don’t see it as a problem .”

” My mental state became a complete mess ,” says Sikdar.” The gym and my body seemed to be one place I had some control and was succeeding .”

Murray says that humen work out to elevate their standing among other humen , not females.” A compliment from a man is worth more than a compliment from a woman, because males have more credibility in confirming other males .”

After a month spent learning muay thai in Thailand, Tom Usher, 30, felt himself change.” I wasn’t scared of anyone ,” he muses.” When you look chung physically, “youre feeling” chung- and that confidence translates into how you act around women, but also humen. It plays to some kind of physical superiority thing that men like to have over other humen, regardless of whether they know about it consciously or not .”

Although Murray does not believe the media causes eating disorders, he says it creates the powerful social comparings that Usher and Sikdar experienced.” Exposure to these images dedicates positive connotations of what it means to be highly muscular for males ,” he says.” This almost always induces a profound body dissatisfaction that results in compensatory efforts to try and increase one’s muscularity .” Individuals can end up in a dangerous cycle of overexercising and restricted eating.

Former
‘ I feel good about myself sitting on the beach now with my puppy, even if I’m a bit fat’ … Tom Ward. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

Why is it that we condemn women’s magazines for including weight-loss tips-off, but men’s publications escape our censure? Both say: you are not OK as you are. You should change. Both perpetuate body ideals that, despite what they may claim, are not practicably achievable by everyone.

” There’s no defined manual that every man can use to get the same results ,” says Thomas.” Not every man can get the desired outcome within six weeks. You can do the same workout as other men and you won’t get the same result .” Some may feel cheated and go to extreme lengths to get the result they were “promised”. These measures can be harmless: protein bars or creatine shakes. But not always.

As it is very difficult to have an abnormally pumped, low-body-fat physique without chemical assist, experts link today’s cosmetic muscularity to substance abuse.

” I was definitely seduced by steroids ,” says Sikdar. He is not alone. Steroid abuse is on the rise, with an estimated 1 million users in the UK. In 2015, reality starring Spencer Matthews admitted to a secret steroid craving fuelled by ” vanity “. Matthews is one of the lucky ones: many do not survive steroid addiction. Dean Wharmby, a bodybuilder from Rochdale, succumbed of liver cancer induced by his misuse of anabolic steroids in 2015. Cult Australian bodybuilder Aziz Shavershian, known as Zyzz, was the poster boy for a muscularity-oriented lifestyle, posting his workouts online to thousands of followers. In 2011, he died in a sauna in Thailand at the age of 22. After his death, it emerged that Shavershian had been taking clenbuterol, which can induce cardiac arrhythmia.

What stimulates men succumb pursuing a cosmetic goal?” Being big was what everyone knew Dean for ,” Wharmby’s partner Charlotte Rigby said after his death.

Murray says:” You generate this wonderful physique and get lots of compliments and then the fear of not maintaining this physique becomes powerful. It becomes your primary identity. That leads to some of the extreme lengths these guys go to .”

Of course , not everyone who tries to get shredded becomes unhealthy. Most will get in shape for a while, then slip back. Gym memberships run unused. Magazine subscriptions expire. Perhaps it will not all be for nothing: they will eat more healthily or exercise more often.

After his encompas shoot, Ward went on holiday with his girlfriend. It was nice being on the beach and not feeling self-conscious about his body. But life get in the way of training. He is unaffected by the loss of his former physique.” I feel good about myself sitting on the beach now with my puppy, even if I’m a bit fat .”

Sansom has put on a” fair bit of weight” since his encompas shoot. Like Ward, he is relaxed about it. Browsing WH Smith recently, Sansom was confronted by his former glory: Men’s Health had reused his body on the cover of a transformation handbook.” I seemed down and guessed: I’ve kind of let myself go ,” he chuckles.” But I’m only two or three months away from getting back into good nick .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com